Even bigots and boors have contractual rights (in good old Blighty)

Contracts again. Apparently it’s OK in the US to lie through your teeth to induce someone to sign a contract. Here in the UK it’s just not cricket.

[Borat] is described as “a documentary-style film” that the producer “hopes to reach a young adult audience using entertaining content and formats”. Clause four states that the participant waives the right to bring any claims against the producer. At first, its subclauses include standard terms such as “damages caused by ‘acts of God'”. Then they go further, demanding that the subject agrees not to bring any claims over “false light (such as any allegedly false or misleading portrayal of the Participant)” and “fraud (such as any alleged deception or surprise about the Film or this consent agreement)”. …

Do these clauses protect Baron Cohen and his producers from legal action? According to Phil Sherrell, a media lawyer at international law firm Eversheds, the clause waiving the right to seek redress against the producers would be struck out under English law. “If this was playing out in England, the subjects would have a good claim that the nature of the project had been fraudulently misrepresented, and that the agreement was therefore void,” he says. “If you look at clause four, there are constant references to the subjects being falsely or misleadingly portrayed. The producers might think that it flags up their intentions and makes it clear that emotional distress may be caused, but none of that would matter if the producers did completely mislead the victims about what they were letting themselves in for.”

At least one US entertainment lawyer believes the forms are watertight, however. “Generally, these releases will hold up in court unless the person suing can prove that he signed the agreement under false pretences or while incapacitated,” says Aaron Moss, an entertainment lawyer for LA-based Greenberg Glusker. “Even if a participant was lied to, a court may find that the person should have read the contract and that if he didn’t, it’s essentially his own fault.”

Source: Guardian Unlimited: Film: The Borat backlash